Lauren Dempsey, MS in Biomedicine and Law, RN, FISM News
America’s top doctor and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, Anthony Fauci, has come under fire this week after comments he made on MSNBC about differentiating the pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization rates. He stated that there is a clear difference between children that have been hospitalized and incidentally test positive for COVID-19 and children that are hospitalized “because of COVID.”
Ted Cruz has accused Dr. Fauci of playing “pandemic politics” after this statement and accuses him of changing the narrative of COVID-19 hospitalizations under the Biden Administration. The Biden Administration has faced backlash over failing to fulfill election promises to “shut down the virus,” instead conceding that “there is no federal solution” to ending the pandemic. This criticism comes as there has been an increase in children being hospitalized.
Fauci explains himself by saying “if a child goes into the hospital, they automatically get tested for COVID and they get counted as a COVID-hospitalized individual, when, in fact, they may go in for a broken leg or appendicitis or something like that. So it’s overcounting the number of children who are, quote, hospitalized with COVID as opposed to because of COVID.”
Fauci’s admission validates the concern that many Americans have expressed over the last 21 months about the possibility of COVID-19 hospitalizations and death rates being overinflated due to how cases are categorized and policy changes. At the beginning of the pandemic, health officials made it clear that they would not be differentiating the numbers in the way that Dr. Fauci recently described.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, said that the government would continue to count suspected COVID-19 deaths, saying “There are other countries that if you had a pre-existing condition, and let’s say the virus caused you to go to the ICU and then have a heart or kidney problem, some countries are recording that as a heart issue or a kidney issue and not a COVID-19 death.”
Why now are experts and public health officials acknowledging a difference in being hospitalized or dying from an illness versus dying with an illness?
CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, also acknowledged that many children that are hospitalized right now are not hospitalized from COVID and are not being sent to the ICU; insisting, however, that the most important message here is to “get your children vaccinated.”
Fauci echoed this sentiment in recent interviews, chastising parents who have not yet made the decision to get their children vaccinated. He said that in most cases these hospital admissions are avoidable and reminded parents of their responsibility to protect their children, reiterating that the best way to do that is by getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
According to the CDC, 78% of people above the age of 5 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The current seven-day average for new hospital admissions is 378, a 66.1% change from the previous week’s seven-day average of 227. However, it is important to note that over half of the hospitalizations between December 15th and December 21st were children under age 5 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.